Floating in the Sky

This week’s blog post is written by Laurie E., a Gobblers alumni and monthly blog correspondent! She writes about the wonders of spring rain and the clouds that bring it!

Laurie E.

We once again reach that time of year, Spring! As Spring bounces into place, however, we see that Winter leaves with one last gift, rain! Personally, I love when it rains and you can smell the earth afterwards, but I had to wonder about where the rain comes from, the clouds, and just how they work. There are so many kinds of clouds, them being all different shapes and sizes, and even colors. So, what classifies them, what differentiates one cloud from another? Well, I just had to find out.

Clouds are made of tiny droplets of water, and as the water droplets stick together with other droplets, the cloud grows larger and heavier. Clouds are incredible! They can defy gravity, but what allows them to do that? As long as the air and condensed water that makes the cloud is warmer than the surrounding air, then it will float.

How do clouds rain though? Well, clouds rain when they have grown so large and heavy after their droplets have stuck together that gravity pulls the droplets down to the ground. When I was trying to figure out just what makes a cloud, I learned something interesting, why clouds are white. Clouds are white because the water or ice in them is just large enough to scatter the wavelengths of light, thus turning them white. Clouds, however, can also be gray. They become gray as they grow and not all the light makes it the whole way through the cloud. Not only are clouds already amazing, but there are also no two clouds that are exactly alike!

There are more clouds than just puffy clouds, and wispy clouds. In fact, there are over thirty kinds! Clouds are named by where they are, and they the shape they are. Clouds that appear the thinnest are the highest, and clouds that are gray and large are the lowest other than fog. Some common cloud types are cirrocumulus clouds, these clouds look like a checkerboard going across the sky, or even rows of lines. Another common type of cloud is the cumulonimbus cloud. Cumulonimbus clouds are huge! They range from near the ground to at about 50,000 feet in the sky! Three classifications of clouds are stratus, which are the low clouds, cumulus clouds, these clouds are the middle clouds, and finally the cirrus clouds are the highest clouds. It is estimated that roughly two-thirds of Earth is covered with clouds at any given moment. That’s a lot of clouds!

In the end, clouds are incredible works of nature! Whether watching them from the ground, or from the skies in a plane it is hard to not look at them in amazement. Clouds can be their most beautiful at sunrise and sunset when with all the colors of the sky they are painted in hues of oranges, pinks, reds, and blues. So, the next time you are outside, take a look at the sky and a minute to enjoy the sight of the beauty of nature at work.